Ashley Smith and Tim Hurd practice for the launch of the new Celebration Recovery on Friday at Life Church in Houston.

Hurts. Hangups. Habits. Every person has them. And thanks to a national program launching at a local church, a road to recovery through biblical principles will be available in Houston.

After months of prayers and planning, Life Church will begin a Celebrate Recovery program Friday aimed at assisting people through life issues and struggles.

“The first thing that comes to mind when you think of recovery is alcohol and drug addiction. And the program is for that,” Pastor Nick Melton said. “But it’s also for any other type of struggle: co-dependency, shopping addictions, anger, gluttony, financial issues, pornography.”

Melton said he was unfamiliar with CR when two church members, Sharon Horbyk and Debra Stockard, approached him earlier this year with the idea of starting a program in the church. Horbyk then introduced him to Beverly Castleman Hurd, a Houston High School graduate who had recently moved back to the community to help care for her mother. It just so happened that she was the state coordinator for Celebrate Recovery and oversaw a program in Springfield.

Momentum began building for CR as church members started meeting in homes and praying for direction.

“I said, ‘God this is awesome. It sounds amazing. But Lord, it will have to be you for us to do this,’” Melton recalled. “We didn’t make any plans or set up our agenda. We just said, ‘God, is this what you want?’ We were crying out to God for this program.”

As time passed, Melton said more pieces fell into place. Volunteers – some who had overcome addictions in their own lives – stepped forward. Hurd and her husband, Tim, had recently joined the church and were ready to help. A leadership team of 11 adults formed and in June, the church committed to beginning CR.

The program is an extension of Saddleback Church in California. It began 20 years ago and now is available in 20,000 churches worldwide. The CR website says the program “was designed to help those struggling with hurts, habits and hangups by showing them the loving power of Jesus Christ through a recovery process.”

Hurd is living proof.

She described herself as an out-of-control teenager who ran the streets looking for love and acceptance outside of the home. It led her life down a path of destruction that continued for many years.

“Alcohol, drugs and promiscuity gained me nothing but a regretful past of poor choices and failed marriages,” she said. “That lifestyle continued into my early 30s before I hit rock bottom and gave my life over to Christ.”

Even after becoming a Christian, Hurd said she struggled to feel accepted in church. Those feelings changed when she found Celebrate Recovery.

“The program showed me how to deal with things from my past in healthy ways, how to forgive and take responsibility for my own actions,” she said. “It changed me.”

As part of the launching process, every member of Life Church’s leadership team is participating in the nine-month step study as they learn the 12 steps of recovery. Among the areas of emphasis are developing a safe place for people to share their struggles.

Although the Hurds have completed CR and the local leaders continue training, Melton stressed that no one plays the role of therapist or psychologist in Celebrate Recovery. Instead, leaders walk through the process with those attending.

“The program strongly emphasizes that it is God and the Word that changes an individual,” Melton said. “Our role as leaders is to love people and let God change them.”

Life Church’s CR service, which begins at 6 p.m. every Friday, will have some of the same elements of a Sunday morning worship service. Except this one will be focused on recovery. After dinner and fellowship for the opening hour, the large group time will feature worship and a biblical teaching or testimony of a changed life. Gender specific small groups will follow and the night will conclude with more fellowship as relationships and accountability teams develop.

CR also provides a program for children. Celebration Place –– for ages 5 to 12 –– mirrors the adult version with age-appropriate lessons that include videos, games and rewards. Life Church will soon begin The Landing for teenagers.

Life Church’s program will be one of nearly 70 in Missouri but the first in Texas County. There are three existing programs in Springfield and one in Rolla. In October, programs will begin at First Free Will Baptist Church in Mountain Grove and Faith Fellowship in Houston.

Melton, who has served in the community the past two years, has seen the challenges individuals and families face in the county.

“Whether you’re talking about Houston or any other community, we all struggle with life-controlling issues,” he said. “We desperately need a program that doesn’t offer religion, but offers a real answer and pathway to coming out of these life-controlling issues. Celebrate Recovery is focused on relationship – not religion – with God.”

The program is free and requires no reservations.

“One of the lies in our community and churches is that we’re all ‘just fine,’ ” Hurd said. “When you’re really ready for change, you just come on a Friday night.”

For more information about the Celebrate Recovery program at Life Church, call the church office at 417-967-3567 or leaders Beverly Hurd (417-434-0684) and Michael Collins (417-247-2281).

The program strongly emphasizes that it is God and the Word that changes an individual. Our role as leaders is to love people and let God change them.”

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply